Waitomo News : NKC Farmer 16 January 2014
Thursday, January 16, 2014 15 By Bala Tikkisetty Sustainable agriculture co-ordinator Waikato Regional Council AS we begin another new year, with its inevitable challenges, it’s always good to remember that – whatever the season – maintaining the condition of soils is a key to successful sustainable farming. So I’m pleased that a strong tool for help- ing farmers do just that – the visual soil assessment or VSA – has been updated with some important new indicators. Understanding VSA and what it can tell us is a very good investment for farmers. A decline in soil physical properties can take considerable expense and many years to correct. It can also increase the risk of soil erosion by water or wind. VSA’s results are easy to interpret and create a better understanding of soil quality and its fundamental importance to sustain- able resource and environmental manage- ment. The updated VSA adds to that by improv- ing assessments of soil condi- tion and plant performance. It does this through a more balanced assessment of soil chemical, biological and physi- cal properties. For example, VSA now helps consider key aspects of the subsoil. It also better addresses the ecological footprint of organic carbon dynamics and environ- mental issues, including nutri- ent loadings – such as nitrogen and phosphorous – getting into waterways. One of the reasons I person- ally promote the use of VSA is that I think not enough attention is given to the basic role of soil quality in efficient and sustained production, maintaining water quality and the effect of soil quality on the farm’s gross profit margin. It’s founded on scorecard-based assessments of key soil ‘state’ and plant ‘performance’ indi- cators. Soil quality is ranked by assessment of the soil indica- tors alone. It does not require knowledge of paddock history. However, filling in the plant indicator scorecard satisfac- torily requires knowledge of immediate crop and paddock history. Each indicator is given a visual score of 0 (poor), 1 (mod- erate) or 2 (good), based on the soil qual- ity observed when comparing the paddock sample with three photographs in the field guide manual. The scoring is flexible. If the sample being assessed does not clearly align with any of the photographs, but sits between two, a score in between can be given, for example 0.5 or 1.5. Because some soil factors or indicators are relatively more important for soil quality than others, VSA provides a weighting fac- tor of 1, 2 or 3. For example, soil structure is a more important indicator (a factor of 3) than surface relief (a factor of 1). The score given to each indicator is multi- plied by the weighting factor to give a “visual score ranking”. The total of the rankings gives the overall ranking score for the sam- ple being assessed. This is compared with score ranges to determine whether soil has good, moderate or poor qualities. VSA can be used at any time of year, but is best carried out when the soils are moist and suitable for grazing or cultivation. Key soil tool a good investment Waitomo Orchard Automotive 4-wheeler oil change $29 PHONE CONAN 027 600 0180 584 Main South Road, Otorohanga vegetation control experienced owner/operator registered chemical applicator 2 + auto rewind reels gorse + weed eradication pasture spraying incl pro gib & eczema Weed Wizard Trevor + Angela Morris 027 694 4324 07 870 5594 Farm services to advertise here, please call janis or sam on 07 878 1188 Bernie’s Autos, Hire Plant & Workshop Services: • Rust repairs • Light engineering • Auto Dismantling • Servicing & tyres. Call Bernie’s Autos 502 State Highway 30, Te Kuiti P 07 878 8798 FREE ADVERTISING Book a space on this page for only $45 +GST per month and you will receive a 10x4 colour advertisement FREE! (Rotation basis/conditions apply) Phone Janis on 07 878 1188 of Sam on 07 873 7139 Email firstname.lastname@example.org FAGAN SHEARING FARMERS If you have the work, we have the team to meet your needs. • Top quality shearing • Professional and motivated staff WE COVER THE KING COUNTRY/WAIKATO Contact Neil t 07 878 5139 m 027 432 1143 e email@example.com We hire: • Furniture trailer • Tandem Car trailer • Woodsplitter • Bobcat PO Box 113, Otorohanga THOMSON CONCRETE Rochelle Wolland Janis MacDonald Sam Baggott 07 878 1188 e firstname.lastname@example.org Advertise your farm services on this page for only $45 + GST per month and receive a free advertisement Advertise for FREE! We want to help your business grow through successful advertising . . . Contact us today!
21 January 2014